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Agenda item

External Audit Findings Report for Financial Statements 2020/21 (GE4414)


Shannon Coleman-Slaughter introduced the report (Agenda Item 5), which provided members an updated draft audit findings report provided by Grant Thornton in respect of their external review of the 2020/21 Financial Statements.

David Johnson acknowledged that the report was to update the audit of the 2020/21 financial statements, which was two financial years behind. It was reported that the audit of the 2021/22 financial statements was currently underway.

Councillor Dominic Boeck queried whether the £8.5m adjustment was something that Members should be concerned about. David Johnson corrected the figure as £7.1m and clarified that it was a net position and that the auditors were not concerned that the financial statement had been misstated. It did raise questions over the processes that were employed, but they were errors that were not endemic of a poor finance team. Joseph Holmes agreed, and reported that a number of the errors were due to simple miscoding of the data, which did not create a distorted picture within the financial statements.

Simon Carey referred to page 47 of the Agenda Pack, and queried why the Council had been unable to identify which Section 106 contributions were short-term liabilities and which were long-term. David Johnson responded there was an expectation that the Council would maintain a central record of all Section 106 developer contributions along with time limits and deadlines. It was explained that the Council did not currently have such a system in place and consequently it was a record keeping issue.

Simon Carey queried what risk impact the Section 106 issues would have. David Johnson responded that it would simply be a case of being unable to classify and assess which contributions and assets were short or long term. Joseph Holmes reported that this had since been addressed and that annua reports were now provided to the Capital Strategy Group detailing the level and term of Section 106 contributions.

Simon Carey referred to page 28 of the Agenda Pack and queried how serious the variance of £1.6m in contributions at a pension fund level was. David Johnson responded that the findings were at a pension fund level and was not reflective of the level at West Berkshire. It was clarified that there was no further information as to how that amount was split across the member bodies, but that the amount was well below the materiality threshold.

Councillor David Southgate queried whether re-evaluation of the Useful Economic Lives assumptions would impact the forward Capital Programme. Joseph Holmes responded that there would not be a significant impact on either the Revenue Budget or Capital Programme as there was a statutory override.

Councillor Christopher Read referred to Appendix A and requested further information as to how the Fixed Asset Register would be assessed and reconciled in the future. Shannon Coleman-Slaughter responded that a project was being undertaken to ensure that the processes were robust and that the records within finance corresponded to those held by Property Services.

Councillor Erik Pattenden referred to Appendix B of the report and queried what had been done by the Council to evaluate and reconcile the difference between the figures in the statement of accounts and the outtutn figures reported t members. changes to contributions that could not be confirmed. Joseph Holmes agreed to revert with a response following the meeting.

RESOLVED that Governance Committee noted the report.

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